Queens are Wild, Make That Empresses
Keeping with the royal theme in Suvi’s Saturday Statues challenge this week, behold Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.
Consolidated from Wikipedia entry:
Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina (German: Maria Theresia) lived from 13 May 1717 – 29 November 1780, and was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg. She was the sovereign of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Transylvania, Mantua, Milan, Lodomeria and Galicia, the Austrian Netherlands and Parma. By marriage, she was Duchess of Lorraine, Grand Duchess of Tuscany and Holy Roman Empress.
She started her 40-year reign when her father, Emperor Charles VI, died in October 1740. Charles VI paved the way for her accession with the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 and spent his entire reign securing it. Upon the death of her father, Saxony, Prussia, Bavaria, and France all repudiated the sanction they had recognised during his lifetime. Prussia proceeded to invade the affluent Habsburg province of Silesia, sparking a nine-year conflict known as the War of the Austrian Succession, and subsequently conquered it. Maria Theresa would later unsuccessfully try to reconquer Silesia during the Seven Years’ War.
Maria Theresa and her husband, Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor, had sixteen children, including Maria Antoinette, the Queen of France, and two Holy Roman Emperors, Joseph II and Leopold II. She had eleven daughters and five sons, ten of which survived to adulthood. Maria Theresa understood the importance of her public persona and was able to simultaneously evoke both esteem and affection from her subjects. She promulgated financial and educational reforms, promoted commerce and the development of agriculture, and reorganised Austria’s ramshackle military, all of which strengthened Austria’s international standing. However, she refused to allow religious toleration and contemporary travelers thought her regime was bigoted and superstitious. As a young monarch who fought two dynastic wars, she believed that her cause should be the cause of her subjects, but in her later years she would believe that their cause must be hers.